SpaceX will test anti-glare sun visors for Starlink satellites

Polycount

Posts: 2,552   +551
Staff member

SpaceX has already launched dozens of Starlink satellites to date, but not without some controversy. When the satellites were first launched, they weren't properly oriented in orbit. In some cases, their solar panels were facing toward Earth, which made the objects appear far brighter than they would ordinarily be.

This proved to be quite a headache for astronomers, as they rely on relatively clear Earth-to-space visibility to do their jobs properly. Fortunately, after the solar panels were re-oriented toward the Sun, the brightness faded considerably.

Even with the problem reduced (but not outright eliminated), Musk nonetheless promised that SpaceX will do its best to make sure Starlink has "no material effect" on space discoveries moving forward, and now he's keeping his word.

In a couple of hours, SpaceX will send 60 more Starlink satellites into orbit (you can watch the launch live above), and one of those satellites will contain a deployable Sun "visor" that will attempt to block sunlight reflectivity.

It's unclear how effective this shield will be, but if it does its job and successfully reduces satellite visibility from Earth, it will be a "permanent fixture" for Starlink launches in the future.

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psycros

Posts: 3,199   +3,395
Their still a huge addition to the ring of space junk that already screws with astronomers doing transit analysis and the like.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,483   +5,989
If they can't identify these issues BEFORE adding to the collection of junk in space they should be prohibited from adding to the mess OR better yet, as a prerequisite to adding their "stuff" they should be required to provide one publicly available Hubble style telescope. Not only will this solve the issue of study, it will discourage useless debris from being added to the clutter. AND everything that goes up should have a limited lifespan that, when reached, will send the junk into the atmosphere to burn up ... sort of like your weekly trash pick up at home .......
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,630   +924
To every making points about space junk:

In theory, every satellite launched from the US needs a retirement plan in order to be approved for flight. Companies need to lay out what happens when a satellite reaches its end of life, and need to have a plan to eliminate it from a orbit where it can potentially pose a threat to other active satellites. For low-flying satellites, this means keep just enough fuel on board at the end of the mission to crash them into the atmosphere. With these steps, the only thing that would be adding to the debris would be the launches themselves (pieces braking off the rockets, that sort of thing)

In practice, whether the current administration is enforcing these plans, or even giving them more than a passing glance for feasibility, remains to be seen.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,121   +4,895
To every making points about space junk:

In theory, every satellite launched from the US needs a retirement plan in order to be approved for flight. Companies need to lay out what happens when a satellite reaches its end of life, and need to have a plan to eliminate it from a orbit where it can potentially pose a threat to other active satellites. For low-flying satellites, this means keep just enough fuel on board at the end of the mission to crash them into the atmosphere. With these steps, the only thing that would be adding to the debris would be the launches themselves (pieces braking off the rockets, that sort of thing)

In practice, whether the current administration is enforcing these plans, or even giving them more than a passing glance for feasibility, remains to be seen.
Get serious. The "current administration", is doing nothing beyond focusing on its own re-election bid.